What is it?
The all-new replacement for the Vauxhall Frontera, which in its day was the biggest-selling small 4x4 in its sector across Europe.
Much of what you need to know about the Vauxhall Antara is apparent in the first glimpse. Cars such as these – the soft, lifestyle end of off-roading – have style at the core of their appeal. The new Antara strikes just the right balance: a dash of off-road ruggedness tempered with a slick, design savvy appearance.
What’s it like?
Step aboard, and from the commanding, high-set driving position to the funky cabin, with chunky air vents and interesting sliver spars on the steering wheel, things look good.
There’s a decent amount of space in the rear, although the boot itself isn’t particularly accommodating and the load sill is quite high. All Antaras are five seaters – unlike the Chevrolet Captiva sister car that has a longer rear overhang to house an optional third row of seats – and there are no trick seating solutions.
Three engines will be available. At launch there’s a 2.4-litre petrol with 138bhp and a 2.0-litre turbodiesel with 148bhp, joined in a few months by a 125bhp version of the same engine.
It’s the stronger of the diesels that we’ve driven here, and it’s not to be confused with the well-known 1.9-litre GM/Fiat turbodiesel unit that’s fitted to so many different cars within the Vauxhall family. This is a new Chevrolet engine and features all the current technology: common-rail fuel injection, variable-vane turbocharging and a particulate filter.
Despite that, it’s a rather unremarkable unit - adequately refined and capable of delivering a solid (but narrow) band of thrust to move the Antara along, but little more than that.
There’s a real trough of power below 2000rpm, and then a resigned wheeze above 4500rpm that has you snatching the next gear. Our test car was an early pre-production vehicle, however, and Vauxhall says a forthcoming ECU recalibration will improve low-down response. Nevertheless, with only five - rather notchy - gears in the ‘box and a kerbweight of nearly 1800kg the Antara is hardly rapid.